First of all, if you can’t guess, I am very much anti-Trump. While I was for a time willing to tolerate his presence on the political stage and thought that it might even be healthy for our otherwise stale politics, the desired good effects I hoped to see have thus far failed to come to fruition while the many myriad reasons to oppose Trump have continued to mount.
In short, it’s taken me and the thoughtful Conservatives and libertarians in America this long to figure out that simply being anti-establishment does not make one pro-liberty, let alone is it the only quality one needs to be a good president.
Trump is not a conservative, let alone a libertarian. He is a con-man perpetrating fraud on Americans, taking advantage of the disillusionment felt by many Republican voters in a bid for unbridled power. We have no idea what he actually believes, but we do know that for most of his life he was a prolific 1%-er who was not at all afraid (let alone ashamed) to bend political power to his advantage, often (but not always) crushing those smaller, less powerful than he. It is quite possible then that Trump–having been elected as an “outsider” who would up-end everything in politics and, like Jesus clearing the Temple of the moneychangers, toss out the established order–instead would do a swift about-face and become the most corrupt insider, cronyist president we have ever had.
Trump is a danger to our democratic government, a threat to the Republic, and may well be the Caesar that will abrogate what little constraints there are left on the office of the Presidency after 16 years of Bush and Obama.
Trump must be stopped. I am sure the vast majority of Democrats and other leftists in the US would agree with that assessment, as do an ever mounting number of Republicans, conservatives and libertarians, as seen in this epic cover of the National Review’s latest issue, the flagship publication for thoughtful American conservatism.
However, this is a bit like the Syrian Civil War and ISIS. While everyone hates ISIS and agrees they must be done away with, no one can agree on how that is to be done, by whom, and whenever someone in the anti-ISIS crowd tries to do something against ISIS they are stopped by the other anti-ISIS club members because the action would disadvantage them as much as it would ISIS. So it is with Trump. While the Establishment, the thoughtful conservatives, many Republican voters, and the liberty voters are all against Trump, we are not united against Trump and are often as mistrustful of each other as we are of Trump.
The reason Trump is such a menace but a menace impossible to unite against is because Trump is an authoritarian, and the authoritarian impulses he has aroused are unlikely to die down anytime soon. An alarming article in Politico points out that the real reason for Trump’s heretofore mystifying and incredible appeal is because he is an authoritarian and that many Americans have authoritarian views–views which have been aroused and whipped up to a frenzy by Trump and which are unlikely to die down anytime soon.
The author of the Politico article conducted a survey (a decently scientific survey by the sounds of it) and very nearly half (49%) of Republicans surveyed by the author have strong authoritarian leanings, and a significant plurality among independents (39%) do as well. Even among the Democrats there are sufficient authoritarians (17% as discovered in the author’s polling–though I suspect there are more than that, but they are left-authoritarians rather than right-authoritarians) that if Trump does secure the nomination or runs third party, he could rally enough support among Democrats, Republicans, and independents to win the election hands-down–even running as a third party candidate*.
This is very troubling. As the article points out, authoritarians are going to respond very strongly to Trump’s strongman rhetoric. They are alarmed and threatened by the spectres of terrorism in San Bernadino or Paris, illegal immigration, globalization and free trade–the series of imaginary hobgoblins spoken of by HL Mencken which are used to keep the electorate afraid and clamoring to be led to safety. The authoritarians in the electorate are rallying around the loudest voice in the tribe: Trump. Once aroused, it may be impossible to squelch them. And therein lies the problem.
Many conservatives–the Republican Establishment certainly–do not want to see this streak of authoritarianism die out. On the contrary, they want to harness it for themselves; their opposition to Trump is based purely on the fact that he has stolen their thunder and their power. In other words, while actual conservatives and libertarians want to put down Trump and destroy his toxic brew of fascism-lite, many Republicans and other “Establishment” figures as phony as Trump just want to get Trump out of the way so they can use his base of support to gain power–and then abuse power, as they are wont to do.